MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

July 23, 2013

Prosecutor defends use of private company in stops


Associated Press

— DUNCAN (AP) — An Oklahoma prosecutor is defending his use of a private training company in drug busts along Interstate 40, even though the company’s instructors are not state-certified law officers and their use drew criticism from a judge

“I believe I am within the boundaries of the law without question, but there have been questions of appearance of impropriety,” Jason Hicks told the Duncan Banner. “Quite frankly, if any adjustments need to be made to the program then we’re going to make the adjustments to the program and we’re going to move forward.”

The Oklahoman first reported that Hicks put the program on hold after Special Judge David Stephens expressed shock after learning that the owner of the company, Desert Snow, pulled over a woman driver and questioned her even though he was not a state-certified law enforcement officer.

Desert Snow said in an email to The Oklahoman that it had instructed about 50,000 officers across the United Stated and Canada. It said, “We have entered into a legal contract with District Attorney Jason Hicks . to provide professional, legal and proven tactics at no cost to the public.”

Hicks said the instructors with Desert Snow have been commissioned as investigators by his office. Hicks says the training has helped seize marijuana, cocaine and about $1.3 million in cash from drug traffickers stopped on I-40 in Caddo County.